Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick made history Wednesday by agreeing to a four-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Fitzpatrick is the highest-paid safety in NFL history with a four-year deal that will pay him $18.4 million per season with $36 million guaranteed.
Fitzpatrick was set to become a free agent following the 2022 season after the Steelers exercised the fifth-year option in his rookie contract in April.
Per Spotrac, the contract put Fitzpatrick above Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks, who was the highest-paid safety with an annual salary of $17.6 million.
Speaking to Teresa Varley of the Steelers' website, Fitzpatrick said:
"I am very excited. I am still kind of in shock right now. It's a blessing. I am really excited. It's just the beginning. I am appreciative. I am thankful. Now I just want to keep on chopping.
"I love the history here. What it stands for. The standard we are held to. The standard Coach [Mike] Tomlin holds us to, on the field and off the field. The standard of winning playoff games, division titles and championship games."
General manager Omar Khan called Fitzpatrick "one of the top safeties in the NFL."
Fitzpatrick was the No. 11 pick in the 2018 draft by the Miami Dolphins after a standout collegiate career at Alabama.
However, Miami traded him to Pittsburgh early in the 2019 campaign along with fourth- and seventh-round draft picks for first-, fifth- and sixth-round picks.
The move paid immediate dividends for the Steelers, as Fitzpatrick recorded 57 tackles, five interceptions and nine passes defended in 14 games, earning his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.
He followed that with another Pro Bowl and All-Pro season in 2020, registering 79 tackles, four picks and a career-high 11 passes defended.
The 25-year-old displayed his versatility by making big strides last season. He led the Steelers in tackles with a career-high 124 and added two interceptions and seven passes defended.
Pittsburgh has one of the NFL's most talented defenses with pass-rusher T.J. Watt, defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and linebacker Devin Bush among its key cogs, but an argument can be made that Fitzpatrick is the most important player because of his status as the leader of the secondary.
With Fitzpatrick locked in, the Steelers will look to get to the playoffs for the third year in a row in 2022.